Saturday, April 25, 2009

Business evangelism, KMET, and reconsidering In-N-Out University yet again

You may recall my April 13 post on In-N-Out University, partially sourced from a BusinessWeek article. Well, BusinessWeek has mentioned the university again:

According to William Martin, who devised the training curriculum for In-N-Out University, the Snyders and the rest of the chain's highest echelon were definitely conscious of the mystique that had developed around In-N-Out. "They were all aware of it, and they loved it," he said. "But they had no explanation for it."

But the article isn't about In-N-Out University; it's about the ways in which In-N-Out customers take their own initiative to spread the word about the brand. For the last quarter century, we have borrowed from Apple to term this "evangelizing." Considering the Snyders' religious beliefs, the term may be appropriate.

But In-N-Out isn't the only El-Lay institution that inspires passionate fans. I rarely see them any more, but there was a time when I would see all sorts of upside-down bumper stickers with the letters "KMET" - long after the radio station had disappeared. Dave:

Launched in 1968, arguably the finest year music has and will ever witness, KMET was different from other stations at the time. Playing thirteen-minute long prog-rock songs interspersed with political observations about Vietnam, Nixon, and anything else the DJs chose to, The Mighty Met rallied an army of loyal listeners who proudly displayed their "whoo-ya" bumper stickers upside-down (just like the billboards did). A KMET staple every Sunday night was Dr. Demento - a bizarre top-hat wearing prankster who played songs like "Pico & Sepulveda", "Dead Puppies Aren't Much Fun", "Fish Heads", "Kinko, the Kid-loving Clown", and "I'm My Own Grandpaw". If you ever wonder why people who were teenagers in the late '70s are a little mental, Dr. Demento is the most likely culprit.

And as one of the "little mental" people (but not a KMET listener), I am proud to note that Dr. Demento graduated from Reed College (unlike Steve Jobs, who didn't graduate). But I digress.

I had forgotten what happened to KMET, but it probably serves to illustrate better than anything else the transitory nature of radio.

the valiant blarings of the "Mighty Met" - classic rock when all rock was classic - was demolished and replaced by the Valium dribblings of "new age" smooth jazz station "The Wave". Fans at the time called it the "Valentine's Day Massacre" and indeed it was a brutal shock.

"The Wave" is still around today. As far as I know, no one displays "The Wave" bumper stickers upside down.
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